Release Date: 
Monday, January 11, 2021

Hawk success: alumna promoted to Technician Leader within a year of graduation

HFC alumna Kristen L. Cavazos (L) and Dr. Kathy Campbell, HFC Ophthalmic Technician Program Director.
HFC alumna Kristen L. Cavazos (L) and Dr. Kathy Campbell, HFC Ophthalmic Technician Program Director.

Kristen L. Cavazos’ career path was already set -- or so she thought -- when she attended Dr. Kathy Campbell’s seminar about the HFC Ophthalmic Technician program.

“I was considering a couple different programs. When I went to the presentation that Dr. Campbell had on the Ophthalmic Technician program, I became interested in the field. Dr. Campbell played an integral role guiding and encouraging me throughout the educational and clinical process,’ said Cavazos, of Lincoln Park, a graduate of the Ophthalmic Technician program who was recently promoted to Technician Leader at Henry Ford Ophthalmology in Southfield.

A true product of HFC

The middle of three daughters, Cavazos graduated from Allen Park High School in 2015 and enrolled at HFC. She earned her associate degree in Applied Science-Ophthalmic Technician in 2019.

Shortly after graduating from HFC, she was hired at Henry Ford Southfield as an Eye Care Assistant. She worked full-time while attending Siena Heights University (SHU) through its articulation agreement with HFC via the HFC University Center. In 2020, Cavazos earned her bachelor’s degree from SHU in applied science, majoring in health studies and minoring in healthcare management. She is considering various graduate programs in the healthcare field.

“Dr. Campbell had Jennifer Dickey (HFC’s SHU liaison) visit our class, where she gave a presentation on degree options at SHU. I was really interested due to the fact that you can work full-time while going to school full-time,” said Cavazos. “After exploring other bachelor programs, (SHU) was the best option for me. There was already a partnership between SHU and HFC, so there was already a path for me to follow, allowing my credits to transfer and ultimately achieve my bachelor's degree. Jennifer Dickey was very helpful in the process and was very transparent with the challenges that will come with the heavy workload while working full-time.”

The only accredited program in Michigan

Upon graduating from HFC, Cavazos was qualified to take the Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) examination, which is administered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO). She earned her COT accreditation on Sept. 27, 2020. HFC’s Ophthalmic Technician program is the only accredited program in Michigan.

“During the second year of the program, we started our externships. We had to complete 960 clinical hours to qualify to take the COT test. We have three different clinical assignments,” explained Cavazos. “My first and second rotation was at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit in the ophthalmology department. My third rotation was at Henry Ford Southfield, where ultimately I was hired. Being placed for my student externship at Henry Ford at the main hospital and then at Southfield played an integral role in my learning. A lot of the technicians that trained me at the clinical sites went through the same program with Dr. Campbell. In fact, Dr. Campbell played an integral role guiding and encouraging me throughout the entire educational and clinical process.”

Transitioning to Technician Leader

Cavazos is in the process of transitioning into her new role as Technician Leader – whose duties include overseeing clinic flow – and also handling some of her old duties as an Eye Care Assistant. In her previous position, she worked as a scribe for ophthalmologist Dr. Lily H. Van Laere.

“Dr. Van Laere has been a mentor to me and has helped me grow in the field,” said Cavazos. “Luckily, I have the support and work very closely with my office manager, Lisa Jones, who has been helpful guiding the way into my new position. Being hired as the Technician Leader was humbling, since I would be inheriting a great team of new and established technicians along with strong doctors and an office manager I highly respect. Having that support system, along with hard work, has made it possible for me to move into the role with confidence.”

Setting an example for fellow students

Both Dickey and Campbell are impressed by Cavazos’ accomplishments, holding her up as an example for other students to allow.

“We appreciate our strong partnership with HFC, which allows students like Kristen to complete three years with HFC and the final year with SHU in our online program or with our in-person classes on the HFC campus. We are so excited for Kristen and her recent promotion into such a prestigious leadership role, and we are thankful she chose SHU. We wish her all the best as she moves forward in her career,” said Dickey.

Added Campbell: “Kristen is an excellent example of the HFC College motto by being a ‘future-driven’ student with high ambitions! Kristen’s always displayed a positive attitude while being helpful to other students in her cohort. I am very proud of her and her accomplishments.”